RetroArt - What the Retroist Means to Me

What The Retroist Means To Me By RetroArt

Things thought lost but now found again.

That is what the Retroist and his site means to me and I’m sure to thousands of others thanks to the site.

I envy the first time visitor who stumbles across the Retroist site and is dazzled by the brilliance of the treasure trove of things thought long lost to time gathered all in one place by a busy band of enthusiastic contributors. I recall the first time I made this discovery and I have been grateful for the Retroist ever since. This digital cave of retro-wonders has allowed me to fill in the holes of my own Pop Culture background.

I was a very tunnel-visioned child growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. I only paid attention to those things which I was immediately focused on. Everything else didn’t matter to me, wasn’t deemed worth my time. Because of this I was only vaguely aware of other things happening, like other tv shows, other movies, other music, other games, etc. The Retroist site has allowed me to become aware of so many other things that were going on around us all back then. Now, today, I have the ability to appreciate all that I missed while growing up.

The best case example of this that I can give is the MAGNUM PI tv series which ran from 1980 thru 1988. I did not see a single episode.

RetroArt - Magnum, P.I.

Tom Selleck in a 1980 Ferrari 308 GTS for Magnum, P.I.

Apparently as a 12-20 year old I was not interested in watching the exploits of a mustachioed, short-shorts wearing, ex-Navy officer now turned private investigator racing around Hawaii in a red Ferrari solving the problems of both his clients and friends. I have no idea why I wasn’t watching this back then. It’s absolutely great.

But I watch it now, even binge-watched it during four weeks, all thanks to being exposed to how much fun the series is based on the posts and, most importantly the podcast, by the Retroist himself.

This is just one example of how the Retroist has helped me re-discover many other aspects of my Pop Culture childhood that I didn’t appreciate before: QUINCY M.E., the Odyssey video game system, VOYAGERS and even the arcade game MR. DO. The list could go on and on but that’s not necessary. To see all that I have re-discovered, just go to the Retroist site and pick any post. It’s all there.

It isn’t just a revisiting of things from my past which I value about the Retroist but rather a new visit to something I’ve not seen before, something from someone else’s experience in the past which I had not experienced myself. It is this discovery of someone else’s different experiences from our shared, parallel timeline which I enjoy the most from the Retroist site. And this is also why I have contributed posts to the site as well.

Even though I have contributed only eighteen posts to the Retroist site, I did so because I wanted to give and not just take. I wanted to share something I thought is special from our collective Pop Culture history and call attention to it in hopes it could be re-appreciated. The Retroist and his wonderful site is a haven for all those who want to share these “discoveries” and give that particular item of interest its due moment in the spotlight, possibly once again after being lost to the trends of time.

That’s what the Retroist means to me, a solitary, shining site of appreciation on the vast expanse of the Internet.

Thank you, Retroist, for having done this.

It is much appreciated.

Did you go as the PUSHMI-PULLYU for Halloween?

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What’s a Pushmi-Pullyu, you ask?

It is none other than the fabled double-headed llama from the 1967 musical motion picture DOCTOR DOLITTLE.

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Who is Doctor Dolittle, you ask further?

Take a moment to watch this one minute trailer for the 1967 musical motion picture starring Rex Harrison in the title role.

[source: youtube: robatsea2009]

“A double-headed llama”, you continue to ask, “does that mean this is a costume for two?!”

That would be amazing, but impractical so, no, the Collegeville Costumes’ Pushmi-Pullyu is a typical dimestore boxed costume for just one child to wear.

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This is a late ’60s, cloth-material jumper costume with long sleeves and long pant legs. This is a good example of the better quality costumes of the ’50s and ’60s (as opposed to the stiff, sleeveless vinyl smocks manufactured for costumes in the ’70s and ’80s). What makes the Pushmi-Pullyu costume really stand out is the uniqueness of the mask!

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That’s right, you wore a Pushmi-Pullyu on your face.

Covering just the eyes and the bridge of the nose, this partial-face mask is a wonderful modeling of the two-headed, circus-performing llama with the dual heads rising above the costume wearer’s own head like a pair of beast-of-burden-shaped antennae.

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This mask is one of the most unique designs in mass-produced children’s costuming. It is both wonderful and ridiculous at the same time; that’s why I think it’s so great. The costume that goes with this awesome mask is great in its own right too.

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The cloth costume, seen here with the pant legs folded up underneath, has a wonderfully stylish illustration of the Pushmi-Pullyu on the torso and the animal’s name right below it to help the more befuddled trick-or-treaters figure out exactly what you were dressed up as. The DOCTOR DOLITTLE film was fairly popular in 1967 so I wonder if the lack of knowledge about the Pushmi-Pullyu was even an issue that year. Nevertheless it was all spelled out all over your body to inform everyone who saw you.

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The Pushmi-Pullyu costume, is altogether charming and quite special with its unique approach in representing its unique subject, which I credit completely to its double-headed llama mask. This was the main reason why I wished to add the Pushmi-Pullyu to my vintage Halloween costume collection. After all, how often does one get a chance to dress up with two heads?

Get lost in the Movie Monster Mazes of 1976!

In the Seventies, I would buy the latest issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND off the pharmacy’s magazine rack nearly every month. One of the best parts of the magazine were the mail order pages where tons of awesome monster-related and scifi-related items were advertised by the Captain Company of New York, New York. There was a multitude of monster merchandise, both common and uncommon, and in 1976 my eye caught sight of Item #21279 and I had to have it.

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I was never able to send away for anything from the Captain Company, but thanks to the local Waldenbooks store in my NJ mall, I was able to get my 8yo hands on a copy of the book MOVIE MONSTER MAZES.

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It was a great thrill to score something which I’ve stared at all month long, month after month, in the back pages of FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine. MOVIE MONSTER MAZES did not disappoint this young monster movie fan. Not only were the mazes themselves challenging with an actual time limit assigned to each one, but the artist/author Vladimir Koziakin illustrated a wide and deep range of cinematic creatures most of whom are hardly ever utilized in merchandise.

For every classic monster in this book, such as THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA…

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…there was a more obscure character, such as the Vampire from the lost silent movie LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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There is a maze made out of  the classic FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER…

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…and the less-than-classic FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER from the 1958 B-movie!

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A maze you can do by the light of the full moon, THE WOLFMAN.

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A maze to do as you rock around the clock, I WAS A TEENAGE WOLFMAN.

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It is the inclusion of these B-Movie monsters that makes this book that much more special to any monster fan. Here is a small sample of them from the fifty mazes you can do.

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Even the sub-genre of monster movies I love most of all, the giant monster movie, is well represented too.

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Koziakin, the illustrator, is not without a sense of humor in creating these mazes.

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moviemonstermazes-00013moviemonstermazes-00019As an 8 yo I always thought it was funny that you entered THE INVISIBLE MAN maze via his nose.

This book was published in 1976 and the monsters of modern horror were included as mazes as well.

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But out of all fifty of these monstrous mazes, the creepiest one is the maze where you’re forced to stare at the hideous visage while trying to beat its five minute limit, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.

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Even though I’ve had this book for 40 years, only a select few of the mazes have been completed. It is not that the mazes were an activity not worth the time, but rather the probable reason was that the idea of being lost in a maze within one of these monsters is a bit…creepy!

 

Did you go as H.R. Pufnstuf’s WITCHIEPOO for Halloween?

If you were to go as any character from a Sid & Marty Krofft children’s television program, none would be more appropriate for a creepy Halloween costume than practically every character found in 1969’s H.R. PUFNSTUF. I was a toddler when H.R. PUFNSTUF was first regularly broadcasting on television and I found that show both fascinating and frightening at the same time. There’s not a single individual found in this kindertraumatizing TV series who wouldn’t make a spooky subject for a costume.

One of the creepiest, and yet comical, characters of the show is none other than the main villain herself, Witchiepoo.

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Thanks to the Collegeville Flag & Manufacturing Company of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, children during the 1970s were able to go out on Halloween in costume as the cackling witch of Living Island, Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo.

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She is just one of two actual “real” persons in the show, Witchiepoo being portrayed by Billie Hayes while the other being the main protagonist Jimmy played by Jack Wild. The rest of the show’s cast are life-sized puppets and fully-costumed actors. You see, Living Island is a place where everything is, well, living!

If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing H.R. PUFNSTUF before, here’s the opening title sequence and the end credits to dazzle your eyes…

[source: youtube: TeeVees Greatest]

The Witchiepoo costume is a standard dimestore boxed kit with a plastic mask and vinyl smock. Even though the mask is an excellent rendition of the character as portrayed by the show’s actress Billie Hayes, the artwork on the smock is hardly an accurate image of  Witchiepoo as seen in the show.

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This particular Witchiepoo mask is the latter version put out by Collegeville. There are a few earlier versions where she has equal amounts of witchy auburn hair on both sides of her witchy face, even one with dayglo red “real hair”. The version I have is apparently the Vroom Broom windswept look.

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There are many other characters from H.R. PUFNSTUF who have been made into Halloween costumes, including the title character himself, and there are costumes of many other characters from many other Sid & Marty Krofft productions. The Witchiepoo costume is perhaps one of the more endearing of them. Witchiepoo is one of those laughable villains who, even though she may pose a threat to the show’s heroes, is in actuality her own worst enemy. Witchiepoo can never win because her own nature won’t allow that to happen. She’s very much a frustrated victim of her own shortcomings.

As a kid, that can be very relatable. Which is why there were children who dressed as Witchiepoo for Halloween back in the Seventies.

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Too bad the Vroom Broom wasn’t included.

Type “pufnstuf” in the Retroist site’s search bar to see more great posts such as:

Freddy the Flute

I see dead Weebles!

Back in the early 1970s, the Weebles toy line (“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!”) had a variety of playsets for those cute little egg-shaped people to populate. From a passenger airplane to a camper van, from a boat marina to a treehouse, the Weeble world was wonderful.

Except for that one playset on the outskirt of Weebleville. The one whispered about down at the Weeble playground. The playset where few Weebles dared to wobble.

It is…the Weebles Haunted House!

[source: youtube user: spuzzlightyeartoo]

It looks like an awesome place to be!

I was a small child in the early Seventies but I do not recall having had any Weebles sets. However, today I would think I would’ve enjoyed having this Haunted House back then. The glow-in-the-dark Weeble Ghost is the main selling point for me but the idea of a toy encouraging me to go play in the dark would have been a deal killer. As a little kid, I was scared of the dark. Perhaps I would have braved this fear for the sake of playing with the  Weebles Haunted House.

Search “weebles” here on the Retroist and see more posts like this:

Ghost Weeble Bop Bag